Experts: U.S. disaster funding deeply inefficient

Jan. 9, 2014 at 11:43 PM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 9 (UPI) -- U.S. disaster funding distribution is deeply inefficient, with huge cash infusions disbursed after a disaster, only to fall abruptly later, researchers say.

Dr. Jesse Pines, director of the Office of Clinical Practice Innovation at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Seth Seabury of the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California and William Pilkington of the Cabarrus Health Alliance said the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks in New York City and Washington prompted large increases in government disaster preparedness funding to help communities respond and recover after man-made and natural disasters. However, this funding has dropped considerably since 2008.

In a report on their study's findings, published by the Institute of Medicine, the researchers made recommendations to provide guidance for the sustainability of U.S. preparedness efforts that include:

-- The federal government should develop and assess measures of emergency preparedness both at the community-level and across U.S. communities.

-- Measures developed by the federal government should be used to conduct a nationwide gap analysis of community preparedness.

-- Alternative ways of distributing funding should be considered to ensure all communities have the ability to build and sustain local coalitions to support sufficient infrastructure.

-- When money is released for projects, there should be clear measurements of grant effectiveness.

-- There should be better coordination at the federal level, including funding and grant guidance.

-- Local communities should build coalitions or use existing ones to build public-private partnerships with local hospitals and other businesses with a stake in preparedness.

-- Communities should be encouraged to engage in ways to finance local preparedness efforts.

"A lot of communities out there have found creative ways to get local businesses to invest in preparedness. The more locals buying into the importance of preparedness, the more resilient a community is," Pines said in a statement.

"How Boston responded and recovered so effectively after the marathon bombings is a great example of a prepared community."

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